A typical day. Well, maybe a little bit overshadowed by melancholy. Boring, lonely and sad. But it is not normal for Dubai, a city-break, which has been created to make us happy. Hasn’t it? An idea kept hovering persistently in my head – I need to change something urgently.

Dubai International Film Festival and my first volunteer experience

During two years in Dubai, I haven’t made hundreds of friends and acquaintances. Maybe because I am a chronic introvert? Or because of my total distrust in people yet? Certainly not because of the language barrier – when it is necessary, I'm able to make myself understood even in Martian.

In general, my close circle of friends in Dubai is extremely small. Those few interesting people I have a relationship of trust with, leave the Emirates periodically, returning to their homeland. And then a gap is formed, leaving a void that I wish to fill.

That day was the same. I was sitting, absorbed in facebook posts, looking calmly at the cats, raccoons and politicians on my facebook feed, flicking through "wise" pieces of advice from the series "100 ways how to be genuine". In fact, I was losing my precious time.

I am in Dubai. It is the best place to show my worthiness. So I am here, in a rapidly growing city. I realized I should expand my circle of friends, find interesting and useful contacts, feel connection with the impetuous development of the megapolis. And then an announcement caught my eye – "volunteering at the Dubai International Film Festival."

I wrote to them immediately.


Without a tremor in my hands unexpecting that feeling was fishily confident. I wrote that I love the cinema and I'm interested in the film industry and I dream of plunging in the world of behind the scenes of actors, directors and producers. I wish to take a look at the red carpet in real life. I wrote I'm a photographer and a writer. I’ve added also a few words about my wealth of experience in social media. Good-natured, sweet, trained to read and write. Well, something like this.

They responded very quickly and asked if I could create a video for the volunteer team. "Of course I can!" - I wanted to answer, but I am not accustomed to lie. Actually, I'm not such a professional film-maker as Steven Spielberg. I wrote to them: "I have experience of camera work, but my level is of an amateur. I can try to make a film on my own risk. I hope it will be something beautiful and stylish. "

And they believed me. – I was invited to the head office.

It’s strange, but during two years in Dubai, I have never been in the area of Media City. Although this is very close to Jumeirah Lakes Towers, where I live. I drove along Sheikh Zayed Road pass the station "Nakheel" many times, looking at the large green park and elegant building in European style. But I have never stopped at those places.

The neighborhood called Media City, where the main offices of the leading media corporations are located, turned out to be really nice. It appeared that a set of buildings in European style are the American University in Dubai. The atmosphere around the temple Sciences is amazing – palms, lawns, birds chirping... It reminded me of Knowledge Village – another cozy place in Dubai.

The office I was invited to was behind the university, in the building of CNN. There were palm alleys, green lawns, picturesque ponds and endless rows of cars under cover of awning. In the background, a spectacular group of super-skyscrapers of Dubai Marina. I knew that I wanted to work here, even as a volunteer, and repeated my desire, like a mantra as I walked…

The building of the MBC Group came to the fore, it’s one of the largest media holdings in the Middle East, followed by other familiar names of media companies.

Finally, I found the right building, went up to the office and found myself in the office of Director of Human Resources – Mr. Mohammed Alhousani.

A man dressed in white, an intelligent young emirati arab, listened to my opening speech attentively, praised my portfolio, posed creative tasks and asked how I intended to solve them. Honestly, everything was so fast that I was a bit dumbfounded. I asked him to give me five minutes to recover.

I looked through the window, at the trees, the sun and the blue sky. The One & Only hotel was visible across the road (I arrived in Dubai there). I looked at a portrait hanging on the wall - Emir of Dubai Mohammed Al Maktoum smiling approvingly. In short, I calmed down and gave quite a good plan of action. "Okay”-, nodded Mohammed Alhousani. - "Proceed, and we will support you."

Wishing to emphasize my loyalty, I said I visited the festival last year as a guest. I watched movies in the open air cinema, on Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR).

Soft puffs, starry sky, and breath of the Bay from somewhere in the darkness. It was so romantic.


It turned out that Jumeirah Beach Residence is one of the three main areas of the festival. The main platform is located in the Madina Jumeirah resort, the Madina Arena theater. The third area is the Mall Of The Emirates, a local cinema theather. I have to visit all the cinema platforms and reflect on the work of the festival and volunteer teams. Scale inspired.

I returned home, draw a sigh and realized that A) my life is brilliant, B) I do not know anything about the Dubai International Film Festival. Where to begin?

Thanks to Sergey Brin, I started with Google. First, I studied all famous film festivals around the world, each story, peculiarities of holding the events, categories of awards and much more. Then I began to study the history of the Dubai International Film Festival.

At a glance

The first Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) was held in December 6th, 2004 at the initiative of the ruler of Dubai,

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Today DIFF is the most significant event in the film industry in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The slogan of the Dubai International Film Festival is 'Bridging Cultures, Meeting Minds'.

The logo of the festival, ”the horse”, is the symbol of intelligence and dynamics.


All recognized film festivals of the world fight for the bright premieres. Dubai International Film Festival is no exception.

On the opening day of the eighth festival, December 7, 2011 the World premiere of the blockbuster "Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol" from director Brad Bird, with Tom Cruise in the lead role greeted public.

Many scenes of this movie were filmed in the UAE. One of the most intense moments was the protagonist climbing on "Burj Khalifa", the highest skyscraper in the world.

Next day Tom Cruise and HH Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum attended DIFF and walked on the red carpet.

Why did Dubai open a film festival?

Firstly, it is prestigious. Within eight days it attracts the elite of the world cinema: filmmakers, producers, film distributors, the stars of Hollywood, Bollywood, European, Arab and Asian film industries.

Secondly, this event promotes movies. For example, in 2004, Dubai cinemas sold 3 million tickets that year. In 2010, over 10 million tickets were sold. Sales grew three times!

Residents of the Emirates began to show active interest in world cinema news, intellectual features and documentaries.

Thirdly, the Dubai International Film Festival introduces the Arab film industry to the world. The festival introduces Arab premieres and old classic movies to a wider audience.

And finally, it's just a vivid and memorable holiday for all lovers of cinema.

Today, Dubai International Film Festival has thousands of participants and spectators. And, of course, an army of volunteers that helps to keep a high standard of professionalism.

After being acquainted with the main team of volunteers of the festival, I can say that I am pleased to meet these smiling people, who love their work. I like their full-energy world. And we have a common ground, the magic of cinema.

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    Author and photographerVictoria Lazareva
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